It is said that when John Malkovich was studying Theater Arts at Illinois State University, the head of the Theatre Department told him that he would not have a career as an actor. But history would later prove the university official wrong as John went on to appear in more that 70 films, several of which are critically acclaimed, such as: “The Killing Fields,” “Empire of the Sun,” “Dangerous Liaisons,” “Changeling” and “Being John Malkovich.” Moreover, he received Academy Award nominations for his performance in “In the Line of Fire” and “Places in the Heart.” And so, even if John Malkovich did not graduate from the university because he did not take the required test on the U.S. Constitution, the Theatre Department still claimed him as one of its alumnus. As a final vindication, when he visited the Theatre Department on April 4, 2005, he was presented with an official diploma for his bachelor’s degree in Theatre Arts.
Born as John Gavin Malkovich on 9 December 1953 in Christopher, Illinois, where he attended a Catholic school in the Highland Park suburb appearing in school plays, musicals and performing as a member of a rock and folk trio. In 1972, he organized and performed in a local summer theater project. After high school, he went to Eastern Illinois University and later transferred to Illinois State University.
In 1976, John Malkovich became a charter member of Steppenwolf Theatre Company and moved to New York four years later to appear in “True West,” which won him an Obie Award. In 1984, he directed “Balm in Gilead,” a Steppenwolf co-production which earned him a second Obie and a Drama Desk Award. That same year, he played the role of Biff in “Death of a Salesman,” alongside Dustin Hoffman which won him an Emmy Award and an Academy Award nomination for Best Spporting Actor in his 1984 portrayal of Mr. Will in his film debut, “Places of the Heart” opposite Sally Fields. John also played major roles in critically acclaimed films like “The Killing Fields” and “Empire of the Sun” as well as in “Glass Menagerie” with Holloywood giants Paul Newman and Joanne Woodward.
John Malkovich played a starring role in the 1988 movie “Dangerous Liaisons” where he portrayed the sinister Valmont. Six years later, he received another Oscar nomination for his role in “In the Line of Fire.” He made his directorial debut in the 2002 film “The Dancer Upstairs.”
John Malkovich, who is known to lean heavily towards the extreme right of the political spectrum, is a successful actor who has gone a long way from a past of driving a school bus, doing landscaping jobs, sitting in the front desk of an office supply store and other menial jobs.